How We Ended Up With So Much Stuff

This month I am slowly working on replacing the shelf liner paper in all our kitchen cabinets and pantry. It is giving me a really good opportunity to touch everything in the kitchen and decide if we really need it/still want it. We did this a couple of years ago when we removed the cabinets above the breakfast bar and reorganized, but we still have a lot of things.
Some wedding presents, some from my grandmother's house, 
and some I "needed". All. Done.
This round of decluttering has me thinking about how we ended up with so much stuff. We never really earned big salaries, and felt we lived below our means. Yet, we accumulated so much stuff. How did this happen? Gifts and free stuff aside, we bought a lot of it. Why?

Instant Gratification

Living below our means still meant spending money. We have always been good at saving, but I think we could have saved more. Looking back, we often felt it was more important to purchase things, than to put that money into savings. A $10 purchase excited us more than $10 in savings. It was that instant gratification, that quick high we got purchasing something. $10 towards savings didn't quite do that. Today, I am much more excited about not spending that $10 knowing that at the end of the month, all those $10 will add up to something I can put in savings.

Making Life Easier/Better

Advertisements are purposely written to convince you to buy something, but sometimes just looking at an item gives me the idea it will make my life easier or better. Whether it is a kitchen gadget, or camping gear, we decided we needed it to improve our experiences. This is definitely the biggest category by far of all the things we purchased over the years. Our camping gear grew astronomically until we literally had to take a utility trailer with us to go tent camping. Every two years we upgraded to the newest phones, leaving a drawer of old ones it their wake. Kitchen cupboards, CD cabinets, tools, closets of clothes, all grew with each passing year.

Changing Seasons of Life

Here our purchases were often necessary, but still could have been reigned in. Children need things, but not as much as we purchased. Our camping life went from a tent, to a pop-up, to a parked camper, to a cottage and finally back to two tents. All the money spent along the way was a learning experience, but I don’t think we thought them through enough. We had the money, so why not.

We are by no means perfect, and we still buy things, even for the above reasons. However, over the last year, I have been trying very hard to analyze each purchase to see if I could a) do without it entirely, b) find a substitute with something I already own, or c) buy it with very purposeful intentions. A big win for me was a trip to the clothing store with our daughter yesterday; after an hour of following her around, I didn’t find one single thing I wanted for myself. It made me feel very happy :)

Comments

  1. Isn't it interesting how we things accumulate if one isn't really, really mindful! I decluttered years ago, and it was then that I realized just how things quietly find their way into your basement! I wound up displaying and using a lot of the stuff, and donating LOTS of stuff. I love this post because it addresses one of the most important parts of avoiding clutter: Not bringing it into your home in the first place.

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    1. Hi Carina, You are so right about how things can just accumulate! I'm not proud of how much we let in our house without being mindful about it; but I am happy we have started to be more purposeful about what we buy now.

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